It’s difficult to say whether 2010 was the best or the worst of times for the planet. There were some devastating disasters (BP oil spill) that shock people around the world and there were victories (small and large) that made all the hard work worth it such as the agreement between the Finnish state forestry company, Metsahallitus, and the Saami reindeer herders about the protection of the forests of Finland.
Many of the events, agreements and discoveries of 2010 have set a precedent for 2011.
The black monster: oil
In the quake of the BP oil disaster that wrecked the Gulf of Mexico’s eco-system and killed thousands of indigenous animals, there has been a shift in people’s attitudes towards oil. 2010 saw a myriad of talks, papers and videos exploring the idea of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and alternative fuel options. This step away from oil will probably be enhanced with gasoline prices heading towards $4 per gallon (just over R27).
A walk among the trees
Most countries were in agreement during the UN talks in Cancun about the need to protect forests around the globe. The Amazon Fund, created by Brazil, had led to a considerable decline in deforestation. Interestingly this has been successful without the loss of economic opportunities. Progress was also made in other large forests such as Indonesia, Finland and Canada.
An environmentally-friendly industry
A medley of big name industries focussed on ways to make business green in 2010. Wal Mart and Proctor & Gamble established scorecards for their vendors, Target pushed for all its stores to have recycling stations and many other consumer-facing companies announced some kind of green initiative.
We saw so many small steps being taken towards an eco-friendly industry including reduced packaging for Winnie the Pooh (Disney) and Mariott’s move towards sustainable seafood.
Is it working: the sceptic in us all
Some recent studies have shown that there are large gaps between reality and perception of sustainability action. Some big consumer brands such as General Mills and Kraft are a lot less green than they would have their customers believe.
Data remains mostly un-credible and many corporate targets/claims for zero waste, being green and climate neutral are long-range and dubious. This makes it difficult for consumers to be make educated decisions about which companies they wish to support.
There are of course other elements of the sustainable world that have seen changes over the 2010 period, and while last year was tough in terms of natural and man-made disasters, there is a trend visible: people’s mindsets are changing and attitudes towards being eco-friendly and living a green life are more and more apparent.
Let’s hope 2011 continues to see such positive change in the way the world thinks.
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